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Alfred Grunfeld (1852 - 1924)

Grünfeld received his first lessons in musical education at the Prague Conservatory but soon went to the Kullak Academy in Berlin to study composition with Richard Würst and piano with Kullak himself. He made his debut at the age of twelve and in 1873 settled in Vienna where he became extremely popular, playing at soirées and parties for the aristocracy, astonishing the public with his ability to sight-read and improvise. His brother Heinrich was a cellist and together they played a cello sonata by Anton Rubinstein in Vienna in 1874. Here, Grünfeld also met Leschetizky, Brahms and Johann Strauss, of whose works Grünfeld made popular transcriptions. Vienna’s eminent critic Eduard Hanslick said of Grünfeld, ‘He is a musician beyond criticism; in public and in private one of the best known members of Vienna Society, and the greatest favourite with all musical people. By his brilliant playing as well as his sweet expression and gay humour, he understands to perfection the art of charming his listeners in Vienna.’

Grünfeld was made Court Pianist to the Emperor and began travelling in 1876. On a visit to London in 1879 he was disappointed by his reception in both private and public and decided not to return. During the 1880s he toured extensively in Germany, appearing also in Russia in 1883, and in Scandinavia, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania and America in 1891. Whilst in Russia Grünfeld was made a member of the Order of St Stanislas by Tsar Alexander III.




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